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date: 15 September 2019

Exoticism (opera)locked


The concept of the exotic in opera – that is, the use of a setting that is alien and accordingly different from accepted local norms in its attitudes, customs and morals – appears first in French dramatic works and in particular opéra-ballets of the early 18th century. One of the entrées of Campra’s L’Europe galante (1697) is set in Turkey; the classic instance of an exotically set work is Rameau’s Les Indes galantes (1735), set in Turkey, Peru, Persia and north America. The music itself, however, is not coloured by the settings; any passages that seem eccentric in style can readily be paralleled in Rameau’s works with conventional classical plots. Nor is there any reflection in the music of such works as the operas or serenatas composed to Metastasio’s librettos with a Chinese, Indian or Middle Eastern setting, or (for example) the operas based on Tasso’s Gerusalemme liberata...

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Musical Quarterly
Music & Letters
Cambridge Opera Journal